Domestic Cat (Felis catus)
Cats have been associated with man since the Ancient Egyptians first domesticated them approximately
5,000 years ago. The Ancient Egyptians regarded the cat as sacred and attributed the animal with all kinds of magical powers. In later years domestic cats were also recorded in India, China and Japan before being brought to Britain, most probably by the Romans.
Throughout the Middle Ages, however, superstition and witchcraft led to the persecution of domestic cats and their owners, resulting in a substantial drop in the number of cats kept as household pets. It was not until the 18th Century that the cat regained its popularity in Britain, when it was used to help control the rapid spread of the brown rat from Eastern Europe.
The earliest domestic cats were usually described as spotted or striped tabbies, but over the years a much wider variety of longhaired and shorthaired breeds have developed
Domestic cats are said to be descended from the African wild cat. These cats are hard to distinguish from the domestic tabby and weigh about 9 to 11 lbs. Domestic cats weigh 5.5 – 16 lbs on average.
The African wild cat, ancestor of the domestic cat, is believed to have evolved in a desert climate.
Domestic cats are found throughout the world. Wild cats are native to all continents other than Australia and Antarctica.
Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they require a diet very high in protein. The best diet for domestic cats is high in protein, grain free, with a small amount of vegetables and fruit for natural antioxidants. Many pet cats successfully hunt and kill rabbits, rodents, birds, lizards, frogs, fish, and large insects by instinct, but might not eat their prey.
15 – 20 years.
The gestation period for cats is approximately 63-65 days. The size of a litter averages three to five kittens. Kittens are weaned at six or seven weeks, and cats reach sexual maturity at 4-10 months (females) and at 5-7 months (males).
According to the Humane Society of the United States, 3 to 4 million cats and dogs are euthanized each year in the United States and many more are confined to cages in shelters because there are significantly more animals being born than there are homes. Spaying or neutering pets helps keep the overpopulation down. Local humane societies, SPCA's and other animal protection organizations urge people to spay or neuter their pets and to adopt animals from shelters instead of purchasing them.
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